cyberghostface: (Juno)
[personal profile] cyberghostface posting in [community profile] scans_daily

I posted this a couple of times on the past incarnations of Scans_Daily, and I thought now would be a good time to post it again. If you're familiar with the story, you probably know why. If not, read on...

(note: this is an abridged version)

Basically, the story takes place in the near(?) astronaut from Earth has arrived to Cybrinia, the "planet of mechanical life"--a planet run entirely by robots. Tarlton, the Earthman, is here to inspect the planet to see if it's fit for colonization by Earth and be part of its Galactic Republic.

The planet is divided into two sets of robots, orange and blue. An orange robot gives Tarlton a tour of the city and shows him where they build the orange robots--robots are given their metal alloys as well as given their 'education' that allows them to progress and make their way in society

Tarlton asks where the blue robots are built, and is told that it's on the other side of the city. The robot says that the two colors are separated to keep them in their place, and it's clear that the blue robots are given less rights than the orange ones. (Yeah, you probably know where this is going.)

While perhaps quaint and even predictable by today's standards, at the time it was published (1953, then reprinted in 1956)  it caused a huge controversy within and outside the company. The first time it was printed was before the Comics Code was instated, but when it was set to be reprinted the Code was in place and the Comics Code administrator didn't want the astronaut to be black (quote is from Tales from the Crypt: The Official Archives):

This really made 'em go bananas in the Code czar's office. 'Judge Murphy was off his nut. He was really out to get us', recalls [EC editor] Feldstein. 'I went in there with this story and Murphy says, "It can't be a Black man". But ... but that's the whole point of the story!' Feldstein sputtered. When Murphy continued to insist that the Black man had to go, Feldstein put it on the line. 'Listen', he told Murphy, 'you've been riding us and making it impossible to put out anything at all because you guys just want us out of business'. [Feldstein] reported the results of his audience with the czar to Gaines, who was furious [and] immediately picked up the phone and called Murphy. 'This is ridiculous!' he bellowed. 'I'm going to call a press conference on this. You have no grounds, no basis, to do this. I'll sue you'. Murphy made what he surely thought was a gracious concession. 'All right. Just take off the beads of sweat'. At that, Gaines and Feldstein both went ballistic. 'Fuck you!' they shouted into the telephone in unison. Murphy hung up on them, but the story ran in its original form.

Here is the letters page in response to this story.


Date: 2011-02-23 02:53 am (UTC)
flash_fan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] flash_fan
I've been a lurker on this site for about 4 and a half years. (Since it was on insane journal or whatever its called). But this post actually made me make an account. The writing here is brilliant, the message is simple but conveyed so well. Not to mention it's so very dangerous for it's time. With the very recent death of one of my favorite writers, Dwayne McDuffie, and it being Black History Month it's an all too perfect post. Thank you.

Re: Wow

Date: 2011-02-23 03:31 am (UTC)
flash_fan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] flash_fan
Is there any trade I can buy with this story in it? How did you get a hold of it?

Re: Wow

Date: 2011-04-19 12:24 pm (UTC)
simtarts: (Default)
From: [personal profile] simtarts
I own the book Foul Play! The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics, and it appears in that. Author is Grant Geissman. It's a nice book - I recommend it.

Excellent Job!

Date: 2011-02-23 02:58 am (UTC)
chocochuy: This is a picture of the cute Kobato Hanato (Kobato Hanato)
From: [personal profile] chocochuy
First of all, CyberGhostFace, I want to thank you for posting this splendid story since it made my day.

The World may have turned into a complete Chaos but stories like the one you posted, my friend, manage to bring us a Light of Hope.

Finally I have to agree with Bobby Stewart considering that this story deserves a prize and I wonder if his town (Kirbyville) will be the host for Jack Kirby's 100th Birthday Party (in 2017).

Date: 2011-02-23 04:55 am (UTC)
lieut_kettch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lieut_kettch
WTF was up with the last concession they tried to wring out of EC? "Take out the sweat beads?"

Were decent Christian white folk supposed to faint at the sight of a sweaty black man?

Date: 2011-02-23 04:58 am (UTC)
joasakura: (Default)
From: [personal profile] joasakura
You have to admire Gaines and Feldman's response though.

Date: 2011-02-23 05:11 am (UTC)
roguefankc: Leomon (Default)
From: [personal profile] roguefankc
Thank you for this. And the fact that Gaines and Feldstein refused to back down makes me respect them so much more.

And it's funny when I read those letters is response to the comic. If anything, it just proves that despite what it seems like, racist people are really a minority. Granted, they're the loudest, but it's a good sign that they don't have as many people who share their views as they think.

Date: 2011-02-23 09:10 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I think the problem wasn't (and, one could argue, isn't) so much the active racists - they were, as you said, a minority - the problem was the casual racism that most people back then displayed on some level but didn't even think about. This, one would hope, got them to think about it.

Date: 2011-02-23 05:23 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] donnblake
Thanks for posting this! This is pretty much my go-to story to explain that Some Anvils Need to be Blocked (TVtropes link redacted for your protection)

Date: 2011-02-23 06:18 am (UTC)
aaron_bourque: default (Default)
From: [personal profile] aaron_bourque
"Dropped," I think, not "blocked."

Date: 2011-02-28 05:39 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] donnblake
That's the chap!

Date: 2011-02-23 06:10 am (UTC)
auggie18: (Default)
From: [personal profile] auggie18
So...if they had backed down and changed Tarlton to a white dude, what would the point of the story have been? It would've made no damn sense...

Awesome story, though.

Date: 2011-02-23 06:20 am (UTC)
aaron_bourque: default (Default)
From: [personal profile] aaron_bourque
So...if they had backed down and changed Tarlton to a white dude, what would the point of the story have been? It would've made no damn sense...

Which is why they refused to change it, I think.

Date: 2011-02-23 09:13 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I suppose theoretically they could have made him a member of some other oppressed minority group that wouldn't have raised so many eyebrows. Still, you're right, all the direct 'whites VS blacks' comparisons would have had to be completely reworked, and it wouldn't have been a quarter as effective.

Date: 2011-02-23 06:19 am (UTC)
aaron_bourque: default (Default)
From: [personal profile] aaron_bourque
I love it when comics use the visual medium to make their points.

Date: 2011-02-23 09:16 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
A powerful story - I've read it before, but it still packs a lot of punch. (Also, I like its graphic design - the geared ridge on the robots' faces that doesn't look like much of anything until looked at in profile, at which point it suggests a nose, lips, etc., is a nice detail, keeping them human-like and alien at the same time.)

Date: 2011-02-23 05:32 pm (UTC)
endis_ni: (Default)
From: [personal profile] endis_ni
I hope everyone concerned won so many Eisner awards they had to reinforce their mantelpieces.

Date: 2011-02-24 06:08 am (UTC)
philippos42: (doctor who)
From: [personal profile] philippos42
Sadly, the Eisner Awards came a generation later.

Date: 2011-02-24 12:10 am (UTC)
proteus_lives: (Default)
From: [personal profile] proteus_lives
Great and classic story.

This is one of the main points of sci-fi and comics.

Date: 2011-02-24 03:45 am (UTC)
junipepper: (jumplines)
From: [personal profile] junipepper
The problem was the casual racism that most people back then displayed on some level but didn't even think about

And, indeed, many still do...

Date: 2011-02-24 01:59 pm (UTC)
feyandstrange: (Default)
From: [personal profile] feyandstrange
Thanks for (re)posting this awesome, amazing, great work. Great lost pieces like this are where scans_daily really shines.


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